ARTitle_Class & group actions_May19 .jpg

ANNUAL REVIEW

Class & Group Actions 2019

June 2019  |  LITIGATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION

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Class and group actions are becoming increasingly common in certain jurisdictions. For advocates, the process has a number of advantages over a large number of separate, individual claims against an organisation. For example, by aggregating multiple similar claims, class actions allow for a more efficient legal process. They also increase access to justice for many individuals who may otherwise have been passed over due to their inability to bring a claim, and reduce their related costs. Some critics, however, suggest class actions may be unethical or result in reduced benefits compared to individual claims.

 

UNITED STATES

Donald R. Frederico

Pierce Atwood LLP

“Class action activity in the US remains strong. Employment class and collective actions are among the most prevalent categories of cases filed. Such cases significantly range in size, from large nationwide class actions against big companies that employ tens or hundreds of thousands of employees to localised cases against small businesses that employ hundreds or even just dozens of employees. Consumer class actions also remain prevalent, as do securities and antitrust class actions. Data privacy class actions seem to be gaining some traction in the courts. Trends vary by geographic region, as some federal appellate courts are more receptive to class litigation than others.”

 

CANADA

Jonathan Foreman

Harrison Pensa LLP

“Activity in the class and group action space in Canada is steady. There have been fewer new cases in most areas, but a number of notable cases in major categories are driving through the system. In the price-fixing area, matters have slowed as we await a decision of the Supreme Court in Godfrey v. Toshiba Corporation. Securities litigation has also slowed considerably with a few new cases per year and legacy cases resolving intermittently. The new Ontario government has made an extraordinary policy proposal to block civil actions against it. If that occurs, it will have a major impact on class action activity as there have been many rights-based claims against the provincial government historically.”

 

UNITED KINGDOM

Richard Matthews

Eversheds Sutherland

“While group litigation and representative claims have been available within the UK system for a number of years, there has been an expansion in the circumstances in which these procedures are used and in the scale of the resulting claims. Group litigation orders are now seeing wider use, not just in product liability, environmental and personal injury claims, but also in financial services, competition, employment and data protection matters with several claims in the pipeline potentially involving tens of thousands of claimants.”

 

FRANCE

Ozan Akyurek

Jones Day

“There have not been many class actions since 1 October 2014, the date of entry into force of the Hamon law, which introduced the concept of class action under French law. To date, only 18 class actions have been brought before the French courts. It is similar to other countries such as the Netherlands, where this type of action is more widespread. Under French law, a certified consumer association may take legal action to obtain compensation on behalf of consumers placed in an ‘identical or similar situation’ for individual economic damage resulting from the same breach of contract or statutory duty, by the same professional, and which is in connection with the purchase of goods or services or from antitrust practices.”

 

PORTUGAL

Sofia Vaz Sampaio

Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados

“Considering our own experience and the information gathered from the market, it is fair to say that class action activity has been increasing in the past few years and specifically in the last 12 months. Pursuant to article 2 of Law no. 83/95, of 31 August 1995, which regulates the right of procedural participation and class action, class actions may be brought by any citizen, individually or jointly with others, in the exercise of his civil and political rights, by associations and foundations that protect public health, environmental protection, quality of life, consumer rights and services, cultural heritage and public dominium, as well as by local authorities in respect of their geographical jurisdiction.”

 

SWITZERLAND

Peter Haas

Eversheds Sutherland

“There is no specific procedure equal to the US ‘class action’ in Switzerland. The Federal Council Dispatch to the Swiss parliament regarding the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), which came into force on 1 January 2011, expressly refused to implement a ‘class action’ into the Swiss civil procedure. The CPC is currently under revision, however. In the aftermath of the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal and various issues with implants, including breast implants, artificial hip joints, and so on, political pressure on parliament to introduce group settlement proceedings into the CPC to ensure that a group of consumers will be able launch collective actions and seek compensation, has increased.”

 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Alexei Dudko

Hogan Lovells

“Group and class actions are not a widespread mechanism for solving disputes in Russia. Companies and individuals tend to prefer initiating separate proceedings instead of filing a group action, even if their claims are closely connected. This is because of legislative barriers, such as the requirements in the commercial procedure code (CPC) providing that claimants need to prove common ground of their claims to initiate an ‘opt-in’ group action, and the generally conservative approach of the Russian courts to the interpretation of those provisions resulting in frequent refusals to accept group claims for trial.”

 

AUSTRALIA

Colin Loveday

Clayton Utz

“Class action activity in Australia over the past 12 months has been heightened and there have been some key procedural developments. A report published in January 2019 by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in respect of class action proceedings and litigation funding in Australia has recommended amendments to the law and guidance, at least some of which may be implemented over the next 12 months.”

 

TAIWAN

Alan T. L. Lin

Lee and Li

“Class actions in Taiwan involve issues from securities investor protection and personal data protection to consumer protection and food safety and environmental protection. Depending on the issues involved, different requirements apply to the suit. Generally, a class action has to be filed by one or some of the class members or the non-profit association appointed by a certain number of class members. In Taiwan, securities class actions consistently make up the bulk of class action activities. With the incoming labour litigation law, whether the composition of Taiwan’s class actions will change remains to be seen.”


CONTRIBUTORS

Clayton Utz

Eversheds Sutherland

Harrison Pensa LLP

Hogan Lovells

Jones Day

Lee and Li

Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados

Pierce Atwood LLP


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